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NNN: Where I Disparage Southern Hockey Markets

Back-to-back wins over the rebuilding Leafs have the Canes bandwagon (seen here pulling double duty as the 'Paint Waggin') filling up 

Yesterday, we were accused of being unoriginal, not funny, and mean to Southern markets. Not that we received any replies calling us hosers Turns out, there are a lot of hockey fans in Carolina (thanks for visiting!) and they come from all over:

If you’d ever been to Raleigh, you’d know there are as many people here who grew up in a "traditional hockey market" (Buffalo, Detroit, Long Island, Massachusetts) as those who have embraced the game since it came here.

So there are a lot of bandwagon fans (Carolina meet ottawa) and attendance has increased! Great news. I guess I should stop making fun of Southern markets...

Instead, the Canes, playing their eighth road game of the season, seemed to be rejuvenated and found some jump.

Chip Alexander

Hmmm....eighth road game? If you looked at the NHL schedule it confirms it but you might be wondering why Carolina was on the road from October 17-30. Wonder no longer because you see, they couldn't play at home because the North Carolina State Fair was in town. Obviously having a hockey game at the same time would have been too much excitement for Raleigh. Hell, think of the people that would have had to miss the horse shoe pitching competition! So much excitement could have had people dancing provocatively and Reverend Shaw Moore will not tolerate any form of dancing. Good thing Toronto pays revenue sharing to keep such thriving hockey markets alive.

Boy, that first period brought back the memories. The string of opposing two-on-ones; the frozen silence in the arena; the lopsided score. It was a little over a year ago that the Carolina Hurricanes skated into Toronto and drilled the listless Toronto Maple Leafs 7-1. Much is different since then - Mats Sundin's continued presence in the headlines notwithstanding - but after one period last night this looked, more than anything, like an encore performance.

Bruce Arthur

I was at that 7-1 game. McCabe bodychecked the net and things went downhill from there. The Leafs quit that night but last night was different right Bruce?

Except it wasn't. Times have changed.

It seems obvious to say it now, but these Toronto Maple Leafs will not finish with the worst record in the National Hockey League. If you were dreaming of John Tavares, you might want to kiss him goodbye.

While Johnny would be a great addition (or Victor) playing well now helps more players develop. Plus, we can always sign him as a free agent because we all know he'll want to play in Toronto right?

It's funny how this Leaf season is unfolding. A team that was supposed to play it close-to-the-vest and compete in a lot of 2-1, 3-2 games has instead emerged as a squad that scores a lot and comes from behind a lot but is weak defensively.

Damien Cox

It must be good news that a team that was pegged as limp offensively has shown that it can score right? The longer Wilso works with the team the more ingrained his defensive scheme will be which means that the team will improve on that end. At least, it better improve because who knows how long Man Grabs Lemon can fire on all cylinders. Speaking of Hagman:

Watching Hagman this year has been a treat for Leaf fans. He's gone from a free-agent signing who looked like he could help a rebuilding team to arguably the club's best player after 13 games.

Hagman has certainly helped Grabovski, who bagged a pair of goals – one off a gorgeous Hagman setup on the power play. And Kulemin, who was too quick to gel on a line with Nik Antropov earlier this season, has found a place where he can maximize his offensive gifts alongside Hagman and Grabovski.

Mark Zwolinski

So there is room for improvement in Leafland and maybe defensive records won't fall but at least one was set last night. Unfortunately, it was at the expense of the Leafs:

On Tuesday, the Hurricanes eked out an overtime win in Toronto after squandering a three goal first period lead.  The win was the 239th of Peter Laviolette’s career, which ties him with John Tortorella for winningest NHL coach born in the United States.

Red and Black Hockey

The major turning point? The 5 on 3:

A key point of the game was in the third period. The score was tied 4-4 and the Hurricanes were called for two consecutive penalties, giving the Leafs a two man advantage. But the Canes penalty killers were up to the challenge and the momentum shifted a bit back to Carolina after the kill.

Bubba - Canes Country

Oh, and on a wholly inappropriate note for a sports blog partially based in Canada, the best part of Obama's crushing win and the stunning repudiation of conservative ideology? Reading blinkered posts that have no basis in reality and try to project their own party's failures, shortcomings, and bugaboos on Obama like this one. GOBAMA!